This year’s Founder’s Day parade took place on a grey and rainy afternoon. As with the previous year it was based again at Hampton Court. The Rangers and Officers gathered in the car park on Hampton Court Green. Ten of our horses and ponies: Cliff, Samson, Nancy, Victor, Dublin, Danny, Perry, Rufus, Ascot and the Special Needs Section’s mascot, Prince Cameo, were included in the parade which led by the band went along Hampton Court Road and into the grounds of Hampton Court, Palace where we formed up directly outside the palace prior to a service of celebration in the Chapel Royal.
The Mayor of Richmond, David Marlow, joined us for the occasion and inspected the troops prior to the service
In May members of Squadron 6 were awarded 3rd place at the Royal Windsor Horse Show for their fancy dress entry as ‘Camelot’ in the Riding for the Disabled Association’s (RDA) annual competition.
The theme for this year’s competition was ‘Musicals’. Riders Emily & Paige, both pupils at Clarendon School, dressed as King Arthur & Guinevere riding Perry & Dublin respectively, escorted by volunteers dressed as Page Boys. The procession was led by a heavily bearded Sue Petrie, disguised as Merlin.
A big thank you to Heather Mower & Chris Parker for all their hard work in creating the fabulous costumes.
Hot on the heels of their success at Windsor, one of Squadron 6’s Friday morning groups led by Marcia Hockley learned that they had earned regional first place in the RDA’s Musical Ride Competition. This is the first time they had entered the competition & the sequence of movements had been choreographed by Norman Baker. Flushed with this success the team is now planning an even more ambitious ride for next year.
In June, 5 riders & a host of volunteers & supporters travelled to Penniwells RDA Centre in Hertfordshire to participate in the RDA’s regional Dressage & Countryside Challenge competitions. On this occasion the horses that represented us were Danny & Sam. All the riders did extremely well, with 2 being selected to go forward to compete in the finals
We were thrilled to be shortlisted for this year’s prestigious Charity Awards.
The short-listed charities were invited to a gala dinner held at the Grosvenor House, London in June where the Horse Rangers received a highly commended award, missing out in our category to a national voluntary charity.
The Award signifies the enormous contribution our dedicated volunteers make to the personal development of young people.
In June Squadron 3 organised Horse Rangers’ first ever Sports Day to help raise money to cover Aries’ £5,689 hospital bill after he sustained a fracture which put him in hospital at Liphook for 12 weeks. Races took place in our Indoor School & included: sack races, space hopper races & a tug of war competition. Despite the rain a fabulous time was had by all & over £1,100 raised. A big thank you to all the Officers in Squadron 3 who helped run the event, especially to Georgie, whose idea it was & Alice Parker who secured raffle prizes.
Squadron 6 marked the end of the school year with their annual Special Needs Section Open Day on Friday 24 June.
During the day families & friends were able to watch the riders compete in gymkhana games & races, with everyone going home with at least one rosette.
34 children & vulnerable adults of the 70 who ride with the Section during the year were able to take part in the day’s activities: including pupils from Clarendon, Dysart & Manor Mead schools.
Once again this year’s Barn Dance fell on one of the hottest evenings of the summer. The Indoor School was full of Officers, Rangers, Volunteers, family & friends dancing to the live music of D’Arcy Spice.
A big thank you to the Bradstreet family who once again ran the BBQ, Sally Pallas for helping organise the event and the ‘Crafty Ladies’ who helped run fundraising stalls. During the break Squadron 3 Officers ran an impromptu Space Hopper race, cheered on by on-lookers.
Over £1,400 was raised from the evening to help support our Special Needs programme
This year’s Awards Day was extra special as it was attended by our Patron, HRH Princess Michael of Kent.
Her Royal Highness was met in the Park by our Musical Ride Team, which escorted her car to the Gymkhana field. There she was greeted by HRA Trustee Geoffrey Godbold, representing the Lord Lieutenant, & our Chairman of Trustees, Richard Bevan. Ranger Cara Gillham from Squadron 5 presented Her Royal Highness with a bouquet of flowers.
It was a sweltering hot day & guests took sanctuary under hats and umbrellas to watch a performance by the Musical Ride Display Team led for the first time by Disney.
The Horse Ranger Band then performed prior to the awards presentations.
James Prance (Sqd 2) & Mae Thompson (Sqd 3) were awarded Best Boy & Best Girl Horse Ranger of the Year respectively.
Karis Gregory (Sqd 1) was awarded Smartest Horse Ranger & Best Recruit Jack Metcalfe (Sqd 3).
Following the presentations, volunteers & guests joined Her Royal Highness for a delicious afternoon tea of homemade sandwiches, cakes & scones in the marquee, which had been prepared especially by some of our volunteers.
September marks the time for the annual Gymkhana. Once a year this event is held with as many as possible of our nearly 400 Horse Rangers participating.
Races included: Hoop race, potato race, sack race, and egg and spoon race and of course best condition and turn out, which entails friends looking after a specific horse throughout the weekend including getting up very early on the morning that their horse is to be judged to ensure their pony shines from all their grooming: points (and rosettes) are awarded on who has the smartest-looking horse. This year some of our Special Needs riders also competed in the turn-out class on Sunday morning with their mascot Prince Cameo.
The Inter-Squadron Trophy is a competition for teams of five who compete against each other with a relay race as well as a show jumping competition. Over the two days of Gymkhana, points are added together from all of the races the team participates in. You don’t necessarily have to be first in every event to win it overall. This year’s winners were Squadron 3.
Congratulations to Robert O’Donoghue for most individual points overall, followed by Anna Hayes, Mae Thompson and Rachael Ball.
As always the gymkhana finished on Sunday afternoon with the officers and instructors race as well as their fancy dress competition which is always extremely entertaining.
The Riding for the Disabled Association organised a fundraising event uniting groups all over the world on 28 September, with money going to RDA groups.
A total of 52 riders from Rangers took part in the event and 24 accepted the challenge of riding blindfolded.
Jude Watts, Squdron 5 Commandant, who took part in the blindfolded ride said, "It was really fun! The kids all felt a bit wobbly and seasick at first, but your other senses soon take over and it’s amazing how comfortable everyone was by the end. It’s a really valuable experience for our kids - they learn about their own riding at the same time as understanding more about what others might experience."
Thanks to Wimbledon Village Stable and Park Lane, who got involved with the event and raised money for us too!
The day raised over £1,900 for Horse Rangers’ Special Needs section.
Our Carol Service in December was made all the more special as our Patron & her husband, Their Royal Highnesses Prince & Princess Michael of Kent joined us for the evening.
Twin sisters Jodie & Chloe O’Sullivan greeted Their Royal Highnesses on their arrival & presented our Patron with a posey before entering the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace for the service itself.
Rangers Grace Bartlett (Sqd 5) Olivia (Sqd 3) & Cordelia (Sqd 5) Cheriton charmed the congregation with their solos of Away in a Manger. During the service Rangers or Volunteers from each Squadron took it in turn to do readings.
Following the service there were mince pies and drinks back at the Mews.
A big thank you to everyone at the Chapel Royal for generously allowing us to hold our service there and all their hard work in ensuring it was such a special occasion.
Disney, ridden by our Chief Instructor, Theresa Barrett and accompanied by some Horse Rangers were all part of The Horse Trust’s 125th anniversary celebrations at the annual International Horse Show, Olympia in December. A fabulous end to a great year.